I’d spent the night at Soda Bay on Clear lake, the previous day had been a long one. The roads out of Covelo and through the Mendocino National Forest had been unpaved, rough in parts, …. manageable but tiring. I can only guess at how many miles I’d covered, ….. no sooner had I posted a brief history of how reliable the Triumph had been when the speedometer stops working. At least the condition of the roads avoided any dangers of not keeping within the speed limits.
It was Friday 19th September, I was heading in the general direction of Lake Tahoe along Highway 20, …. I stopped for fuel in Nevada City and was accosted by Roger. Roger is Californian, he worked in special effects for the movie industry, .. he drops names like they were my friends too, some I recognised, some I didn’t. He wouldn’t stop talking, his enthusiasm for motorcycles and the local roads was unbounded, the line of cars wishing to use the pumps was growing, …. the cashier eventually came onto the forecourt with my change, a not too subtle hint to move on.
Armed with new information, I changed my plan and headed up State highway 49. It was a great road, …. it took me into ’Gold Rush Country’ and thanks to Roger, it pointed me in the direction of some non-tourist attractions. The Sierra Nevada was the place to be back in 1849 when the prospectors came in search of their fortunes. Thus, they became known as ’49ers’ and the naming of the road, which clearly didn’t exist back in 1849, … came later. Every few miles, Gold Towns and Ghost Towns straddle the road and tracks and I eventually arrived in Downieville. If ever a town had been lifted straight from the movies, then this is it. The narrow streets are lined with old wooden properties, each with a porch and walkway, …. I could swear that even the bar had swinging louvered half doors and a place to tie up the bike. I’d parked the bike and wandered around taking photographs when I met Dan. Dan lives in Sacramento but has a weekend retreat here. We talked for a few minutes and then he simply thanked me for the talk, thanked me for visiting Downieville, ….. and handed me a $100 bill for St Teresa’s Hospice. Henceforth, the name ’Downieville Dan’ will be written on the Tiger along with all of the other donors, ….. Thank You.